So, yesterday was fun! In the real world I spent the day with my oldest friend and his family enjoying the sun. In the world of books though, The Guardian published a list. A slightly odd list in my view. It proclaimed to be The Best 100 Books of the 21st Century so far. The best books of the last 19 years of publishing. The crème de la crème of what the industry has had to offer us as readers over almost two decades.
I’d read six.
Which prompted me to tweet out to ask how many others had read. The results were interesting to say the least. It turned out I wasn’t alone. The list is quite divisive. The general view from the responses I had is that it was oddly put together and represented more what certain intellectual types feel you ‘should’ have read over the last twenty years. Rather than those books that you actually want to read.
I got a huge response to the tweet. I have ninety-three (including my own) responses to the question how many have you read? As I’m a bit of a number nerd, I’ve compiled them all into a quick spreadsheet and the results back up the conversation that went on yesterday.
The lowest number was zero
The highest was thirty seven
So, no individual had read even half of this so-called greatest list.
The most common answer was five, with ten people giving that response.
The overall average was just ten.
I think we can safely say based on this snapshot of readers that the Guardian list doesn’t really represent us as a group. There were a lot of comments around books that had been DNF’d, and even a lot of “I haven’t heard of most of these”. I haven’t compiled stats on these last two though. What the list does represent though is critics. And this is where bloggers start to scare critics I think, we don’t read and review to show off an education. Neither do we read and review for money, so we are not beholden to marketing budgets and PR pressure. I would imagine a lot of books that find their way into the hands of critics do so because of the relationships the big six have. This makes any critic-based list skewed in my opinion. It is not based on a readership response, it’s a small snapshot of industry opinion.
Because of this bias in the list, a lot of the top end of the list were major titles from major publishing houses. As a massive fan of indie writing and publishing it struck me that there was a distinct lack of representation outside of the mainstream too.
All of this, and some conversation on twitter yesterday that this might be fun to do, has led me to have a go at putting together a list of our own.
Introducing a Readers Top 100.